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tv   CSIS Discussion on Iraq War History Panel 1  CSPAN  May 19, 2019 9:44pm-10:54pm EDT

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announcer 1: you have been watching prime minister's questions from the house of commons. it continues on c-span 2 or watch it sunday at 9:00 eastern and pacific on c-span. you can also go to to see video of past prime ministers questions and other british public affairs programs. announcer 2: monday president trump will be in pennsylvania for a campaign rally. live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. eastern on c-span 2, online at or listen on our free radio app. the center for strategic and international studies posted this forum on the two-volume report in the war in iraq. this is about an hour and 10 minutes.
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>> all right, good morning, everyone. thanks for coming to csis today. i see friends and some new people. my name is seth center. i'm the director on history and strategy, which is csis' novel strategy, which is csis' novel and probably naive idea that people might want more history to go along with their tweets when they're talking about state craft strategy and military affairs. so what better way to kick off that hypothesis than with 1500 pages of military history? that seems like a good test case for whether we can succeed or fail in this endeavor.
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and what's most striking about that is how little actual history has been written about the iraq war from the perspective from a professional historian. i think as we move into thinking about the implications and future of america's role in the world, its statescraft and military operations, it's useful to dive into the actual history of what happened if we're going to make the large assumptions about the meaning of the war. now the general introducing this volume said this was not going to be the last word on the iraq war, and it's certainly not, but jewel rayburn and ray subject and their teams did a tremendous public service for all of us in putting together just this massive, massive project, which involved digging through terabytes of data, dozens if not hundreds of interviews.
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it's really a remarkable endeavor. i would say, you know, if we take a step back, and there will be plenty of time to talk about the details of this project, why this project matters at a first order level, at a fundamental level. democracies work best when they're accountable. accountability requires transparency. transparency, as we all know in large organizations, is hard, particularly hard in organizations that have to be introspective about large and sometimes unsuccessful endeavors . and so it is really a remarkable -- a remarkable act for the united states army to commission history like this so close to the events. and it's remarkable to put together such a good team to produce that history, and it's even more remarkable that the army would have the courage to ultimately publish it. and it's even more remarkable on top of that that the army would declassify 30,000 pages of accompanying documents so that we can all assess on our own whether or not the
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interpretations of this history comport with the evidence. and so we'll spend about 15, 20 minutes hearing from joel and frank about the genesis of the volume, then we'll go into a panel on the first volume and then we will take a little coffee break, and then move forward. so, joel, enjoy. joel: thank you very much. thank you very much, seth and thank you to the members of the operation iraqi freedom study group who are here. i think half the audience is members of the team. but it was certainly an honor and a privilege to help to lead this project. origins of the project lie in a conversation that the generals had around christmas time 2012 where they then as chief of the
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army and centcom commander, having both been three-star and four-star commanders in iraq, remarked to one another that the army needed to capture the lessons and the history of those campaigns, while it was still fresh on the minds of army leaders. they themselves were just a couple of years, they knew, from moving on out of the army, and so while they were in a position to bring it about, they wanted to establish a history project. general austin was particularly well-placed to -- because centcom is the holder of the archival records of the iraq war. and the other general of the chief staff of the army was well-placed to use the army's institutional resources to try to produce the history. it was something they conceived of in tandem. hisral odierno asked me to
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office in early 2013 and explained this to me, and also explained that he believed that the army had not done something similar for the vietnam war, nor had captured the lessons of the counter insurgency campaign in the vietnam war in an institutional way. and so he wanted to avoid that mistake and have the army do some self-reflection, especially since he believed that the conflict in the -- in iraq and in the greater middle east was not over. and so, it was important to, rather than to wait the standard 15 to 20 years, that the army tends to do, to try to capture something more quickly so that it could be used in the army's staff colleges. -- staff colleges, war colleges and so on for leaders who might be expected to go back out into the same theater of war. and his thinking on that was impression of course, in fall 2014, the army was redeployed to iraq essentially to fight the
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same enemy, but this time in the of the the -- the guise islamic state of iraq and syria. now, what was our charge? we felt that tactical history would be useful, but more useful would be something that army leaders could use. the leaders who are in between the tactical level and the strategic level. we also felt that tactical stories wouldn't tell the story of the war or those operational levels of theater level lessons that general odierno and general austin wanted to learn and to reflect their own experience. the strategic level and the policy level, general odierno and the rest of us felt had already been covered by great historians like michael gordon who dealt with the story of the
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iraq war as it took place as it , played out inside of the beltway in washington. so we didn't want to rerun that story. we wanted to do something between at the operational level of war, at the four-star and three-star level commands in iraq or occasionally in tampa to explain how strategy and policy translated into tactical actions on the ground or how tactical actions on the ground translated up into the strategy and apology process or didn't, for good or ill. that was our charge, and that was the scope of these histories. that's why you find us as historians trying to put ourselves in the shoes of the four-star and three-star commands, mostly in baghdad to see the situation as they saw it, to see how they responded to decision points as events unfolded. there was also -- we had the overarching charge, i think, of explaining why the events that transpired after 2003 didn't
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flow uninterruptedly from the decision to invade iraq in 2003, that the collapse of the iraqi state, for example, in june 2014 wasn't, as i say, a direct consequence of the decision to invade iraq by the u.s. in 2003. that there were many, many strategic and operational decision points after the invasion of iraq that had a greater impact on the course of events than the decision to invade, as significant a decision as that was. there were some major, i think, historical findings that are new, or that are -- the newest, i would say, historical ground that our team broke, covered, for example, 2005, i think, in our narrative, which is mostly
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the research work of frank sobchak here, really comes out as a pivotal year for the entire iraq war. that's the year when the theory that the invasion could lead to elections, which would seat a legitimate government, which would naturally cause the stablization, would lead to the stablization of iraq. that was proven incorrect for a variety of reasons, one of which is that in 2005, that's the year that the syrian regime and the iranian regimes kicked their interference, their interventions into iraq into high gear. that's the year that the army underresourced the campaign by sending almost half of the combat power from iraq to the -- from the reserve component, and keeping back the active component to go through a transformation of equipment, as well as a misunderstanding on the u.s. side of the politics of the iraq campaign at that point, and failing to understand,
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failing to understand that the sunni community was in the midst of its own civil war. that the shia community was in the midst of a power grab by ex-patriot shia islamic parties who spent the previous decades mostly outside of iraq in iran, and both of them were funneling the surrounding region into the iraq war. this was -- so i think, i think a revision of our understanding of that pivotal year of 2005, the year of the purple fingers is the first thing that i would call readers' attention to. i think, also, where we broke some new ground is in the story of the surge and the awakening. the awakening being the tribal movement mainly that reflected that split, the civil war that i just mentioned among the sunnis in 2005.
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by 2006 and 2007 was playing out with a tribal movement that was separating itself from al qaeda and iraq, and aligning with the u.s. military, not with the iraqi government but with the u.s. military. i think the interplay of the awakening and surge, the reenforcement of u.s. forces that president bush ordered into the theater at the beginning of 2007 has not been that well understood. the way in which both of them needed the other in order to produce the dramatic drop in violence, the dramatic operational defeats of al qaeda and iraq, and later the shia militant groups in iraq. and so, our co-author, jim powell, his research into the way the awakening generated and spread at the tactical level, his study of how battalion commanders, and company
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commanders, and local sheiks and so on interacted during that time, embarked on a series of confidence building measures, took some leaps of faith. the way in which that interplayed with the arrival of more u.s. forces on the ground, the way in which general odierno and general petraeus assisted and built confidence on both -- to build confidence in both sides and really punch al qaeda in iraq in the nose in 2007, 2008, is a story that hasn't been explored that well before. i think that readers will appreciate those chapters, which came from the pen of jim powell. third point of i think historical new ground that i like to point out is our co-author, matt morton, who is here today, did research on the period after -- from 2011 onward. from 2011 to 2012 in particular,
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and he was able to examine using interviews and using internal journals and so on from u.s. forces and general austin's command at the time. the way in which the debate over whether and how the u.s. military should stay in iraq, or whether the u.s. military should leave iraq, how that played out inside the military command, and the kind of choices, the kind of trade-offs that the military command had to make, and the near total, the near total surprise with which the final decision to leave iraq was received inside that military chain of command. and then the way in which that rapid withdrawal that hardly anyone inside the command or on the iraqi side expected, how that set the stage for a very turbulent 2012 and 2013, in which the iraqi government of
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neri maliki suddenly found itself in a civil war again this time with the islamic state of iraq. but the united states was not postured or resourced to help, so there was a steady deterioration of the iraqi government's position, which culminated in the fall of fallujah in 2013, 2014 and the december collapse of the iraqi provincesits northern in the middle of 2014. the last area i think of historical new ground, and there are many are many examples but these are the ones i think are most prominent, is going back to frank sobchak's work as well as jeanne godfroy's work standing in the back of the room, the pivotal period the end of 2013 to the spring of 2014 where there appeared to be -- from washington, and outside there was an assumption that iraq was -- that the situation in iraq
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was essentially on its way to but inside the command, there was great fear of an outbreak in the sense that there was barely manageable situation in the country. and then that exploded in april of 2014, into at least a two-front war against sunni militants and shia militants where the u.s. command, the coalition command at that time under general sanchez barely escaped collapse. and it was only the timely intervention of the first armored division under major general marty dempsey, the first armored division on its way out of iraq, but happened to be a few days away from driving down to kuwait, that it was available for a reserve force to counterattack against the militants who were in danger of taking over the entire center in south of iraq and save the situation. a dramatic situation where the first armored division actually
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had to cut its helicopters out of shrink-wrap on the pier in kuwait and reassemble them and back to theater just to save the situation and that's the call it was. its helicopters out of shrinkwrap on the pier in kuwait and reassemble them and send them back up to the theater, just to save the situation, that's how close a call it was. that colored the response to different crises on the coalition side for the remainder of the war. those are the big areas of historical narrative that i would draw people's attention to. i should've started of these when i'm speaking on behalf of myself and the state department where i work by the way, can i put that caveat on because the commentary i'm about to make is my own but i would note that i think the public perception of these works so far has focused on a couple things that might
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not be the most valuable. the first is, the bumper sticker take away the army study concludes that iran won the iraq war but i don't know we would necessarily put it that way and i also don't think that's the only important take away of our study. certainly they history as we put it together indicates, for sure that the iranian regime exited, by the time the united states exited operation iraqi freedom that the force and iran unquestionably and in a much stronger position in iraq and the rest of the region than they were in 2003, and that is very clear. also, i think the story of the public perception has centered on the way in which it was difficult for the army to actually go the final
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mile and publish this was a work that was pretty much ready for publication by the middle of 2016 but didn't appear until january 2019 and there was a story inside the army in a roller coaster of emotion before it appeared. but, i think that we would be better served to look and engage with the narrative that this team of historians fit together using archival research, interviews, documentary evidence and so on. i think that is where the real lessons are. so i would ask people to look at it that way. finally, i would say that we wrote as seth pointed out, not to be definitive, to have the last word, the general charge
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us with that and told us get the conversation going, they should be the first word. the general thought the should lead to a series of follow-on studies and we as historians knew that we were doing work that would likely be revisited and improved upon if not debunked and we look forward to that. we look forward to doing that ourselves as well as our understanding of the campaign matured. there are some gaps in the story of the iraqi side has not been told and we tried to tell it to the greatest extent possible but iraqis coming from a police state background find it difficult to write their own history on the record. so, i think that is sometime to come in particularly the various aspects of insurgency from the inside, i think we started to get some glimpses of that especially as the
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awakening matured and some of the insurgency fractured, parts of the insurgency were willing to talk about others and so that began to come out a little bit but it has not come out authoritatively and so we hope that will happen. the role of special operations forces was one we could not give a really i think we couldn't do justice to because of the classification issues and the fact that those forces are still out there and they are still operational techniques and are still sensitive. some of them are still operating , the same commands operating at some of the same places but that's a story yet to come out as well as many supporting aspect for theater logistics, the role of the air force, the navy, the role of coalition components in this war, all of these need further attention and that's a long way of saying there's more work to do and we didn't mean to, we didn't mean for this to be a all the work
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there is to do so we hope that our two volumes will be a foot in the door for historians to come after us, to look at sources find sources of their own and to really expand our understanding of this work even more. it's a campaign that has lasted since early 2003. i think you have to say it's the same more going on in the northern middle east for 16 years, 16 years of a war. i hope that our two-volume treatment won't be the only treatment the u.s. government does of this vast campaign. thank you. [ applause ] >> thank you, seth and thank you for inviting us, we appreciate the opportunity to be here. the general once he commissioned our project he directed us that above all the reason why he was commissioning the project was so that people could learn from the conflict.
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by being here you are helping to accomplish that mission. towards the end, some of the things he directed in terms of scoping the project was he wanted to be unclassified so, throughout the process we were very fortunate to have his support as well as general austin support in declassifying documents, giving access almost anything we ask for and having a great level of top color that enables us to accomplish our mission. in terms of scoping i think he also wanted us to have an interesting storyline. he directed us, rather than follow a more formatted process, which in the past is often how the army does is after action reviews and studies, he wanted a narrative to tell the story so it can be followed and could be interesting. some of the storylines like the story thread you will see throughout the elements of the detention storyline the elements of the isaf and the
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security force assistance and efforts to build the isaf. operational history. were also fortunate by the level of degree in support that we were able to achieve through allies. when general odierno scope the project as a ground for study directed us to include both special operation forces which many of the organizations opened their archives and give us access to previously and accessible information, we were also able to access as a ground component the u.s. marine corps who also open the archives, access to key leaders and allowed us to review oral history interviews as well as allies. we were fortunate to have matt morton who engaged our european allies schedule who engage the uk polish officers, italian officers and a whole swath of allies that contribute to it. all and told it was a ground for study with the narrative
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background and they were fortunate to have such high- level support. so, thank you . >> [ applause ] >> we will go right into the first panel, come on up. >> we need one more chair. do we have another chair? >> okay. >> were going to move to the first volume of this amazing work of history which is from 2003 through 2006, the invasion of the insurgency, one of the offers of that volume who has a phd from princeton, teachers at west , three tours in iraq and
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will talk about findings of the first volume and then we moved to kim, he will comment the chief in baghdad at which point she was unfortunately critically wounded. she is my colleague at cnn and is also a contributor at the daily beast . >> good morning. >> hello? >> okay. i will try to project, can everybody hear me now? >> said thank you . >> thank you seth for inviting me, it's great to be back with the casting crew oh, the five
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of us, they started this adventure in 2013 thanks to joel. like many of my peers, i spent almost my entire 20s deployed to iraq and i felt not only a real sense of privilege that i was a part of something like this but a tremendous sense of responsibility to start the conversation the right way and to continue productively for years to come. i think listening to general odierno wanting this to be the beginning of a conversation i one thing that was an important is that we acknowledge our failures, if we don't knowledge then we can learn from them and failures often give us a greater opportunity to learn then any of the greater successes we achieve. he kind of lead by example of taking ownership and i saw that kind of ownership in the people i interviewed with 10 to 13
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years to reflect on experiences and be constructively critical of how they performed and critical of how the army performed as an institution. contrary to what i expected there was not a lot of finger- pointing but a lot of ownership, it was a good way to get into this project. my biggest challenge for today was figuring, what in a volume of almost 160,000 words i was going to talk about because the volume spans not only the prewar time period from 2002 through 2003 will most the planning was taking place but up to where locke was the sending the chaos at the end of 2006. the way i decided to approach it was to discuss for key lessons learned that covers the period in resonated with me to work on the study. it covers some of the successes briefly and then leave you with the overarching lesson learned from that time period. the first of the semantic areas was the utter lack of military
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planning for what would happen in phase 4. when i interviewed officers who were in fit core and who would've been responsible for the planning, almost uniformly, the reason they didn't plan for phase 4 as it was someone else's problem, they were never supposed to go farther than baghdad and after that they would go home and turn over the entire problem set to a state department or other entity that was going to effectively re-stand up a rock and make it a democratic ally for the middle east, the military didn't have to worry about any of that so they decided not to. as a result, we spent about 12 to 14 months planning for getting to baghdad which took six weeks and spent less than two months figuring what would happen after the regime fell. this was a huge oversight on our part and to illustrate that this was not the problem of civilian policymakers, one of the case studies pointed to
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early on is the case of the 75th fuel artillery regiment. they were activated simply to exploit the weapons of mass distraction that we were supposed to validate the iraq war with after the invasion and we left them as an afterthought . so, that case ended up being illustrative of the failure to plan in general for what was actually gonna happen and what the mission was. the key take away was that military leaders cannot advocate their responsibility to prepare for the day after major combat operations and regardless of what civilian leadership is telling us . >> lesson number two deals with the failure to understand the human terrain and joel briefly touched on that during the introduction and we won't repeat what he said here but the lack of understanding was derived from for key area. the
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first is that of a rock was a black box after the gulf war, the only thing we were interested in a was the air defense artillery systems and no-fly zone areas and we were interested in the weapons of mass destruction program due to national intelligence levels and try to military intelligence level. we never really aim to try to penetrate the complex social and political dynamics that were happening in the country after it was in the go for. there were over knee optimistic and incorrect planning assumptions and among them they assume the rock would be like liberated to germany or france after world war ii and they would come in, get a parade and reform the institutions that already existed, we have an iraqi expatriate government led by those who would take things
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in hand and establish a democratic iraq. this was a bad assumption especially when you think it took decades to get things right in germany and japan and you expect to accomplish this almost immediately. iraq didn't have anywhere near the institutional capability or stability that germany and japan did after world war ii. the third reason we fail to understand the human terrain at the ground forces level is that most of the intelligent systems the assets in the way we did intelligence analysis were directed at soviet style formations in military formations in the combat centers. we didn't have the technology, processes or interest in developing a good intelligence picture of social political dynamics to say nothing of counterterrorism, fighting in civil war. the fourth reason we didn't go after the human terrain is probably illustrated best in a
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book called the unraveling. we had in a word a superiority complex, we thought we were better than them and as a result we didn't try to understand what was really going on with the complexities of the social situation we found ourselves in the failure to understand and penetrate the human terrain ended up contributing significantly to iraq's descent into chaos. the lesson learned here to me was you go to war with if you have the enemy wants. the third major oversight, i won't get into a lot of detail on in the interest of time was tension operations. what happened had dramatic impact on the perception and legitimacy of what the united states and its allies were trying to accomplish after 2004 but here are questions we never got right. what do we do for combatants, how do we know who they are, what do we do with those in contention while in detention, what is the criteria and process for retaining releasing detainees. ultimately the failure created more adversaries and ultimately
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the lesson learned is the tension operation is a strategic issue. we haven't gotten detention right yet will we continue to under resource and under think this problem. >> we were stuck in a losing strategy that was stuck to impel things got bad. this is along the lines of a stable and democratic iraq with that peace with its neighbors and ally in the war on terror capable of maintaining its own security and trying to accomplish that in two years. they tried to accomplish that by withdrawing and disengaging back into the bases away from the iraqi population. in addition, from 2004 through 2000 sick we had a strategy predicated on transitioning a deteriorating security situation to security forces who had been completely disbanded and rebuilt to be only a 12 brigade side combat intern infantry
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force. ultimately the general is responsible for expanding the mission to be a fully fledged ministry of defense capability backing combat forces with logistics and intelligence and all sorts of things of that nature. they took the initiative to take the police force in particular under his wing but even so would often comment that it took six weeks to destroy an army and it would take another 20 years to build one. again, we were trying to build it in less than two years. the lesson here is allow to establish a set of goals or standards and not arbitrate timelines or if your civilian leadership is establishing an arbitrary timeline they need to be very realistic about the expectations as you proceed with the timeline. >> those are the major for lessons learned i wanted to cover and i also wanted to highlight some of the sick fesses of the united states military and the allies in this time period. the first successes that despite being completely
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unprepared for the type of adversary that we face with far fewer forces than the planned to have we did actually achieve a steady military victory in march and april 2006, that >> dragon less than half the time we plan to do and that is a significant accomplishment that can be overlooked. i wanted to bring up the provincial reconstruction team, an incredible initiative that had been research properly might have paid further dividends still. putting the iraqi police in the interior ministry and policing were generally under the control of military forces instead of the state department they didn't have the resources to support the mission and they want interested in and and at the time the security situation was so bad it made sense to make the police just as capable of encountering -- and we ended up having problems with the forces later and due to the
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fact that we didn't understand the human terrain very well we didn't realize how many of the forces that we were sending up were being co-opted by militias and other organizations but that that was an excellent portion of trying to expand the strategy of providing security to a rock. we also started supporting local movements like the sunni awakening. sometimes the enemy screws up and al qaeda in western iraq have been so heavy-handed that it was starting to turn its allies tribal militias against it. fortunately we have passionately strategic level leaders who saw this and took it and that would pay huge dividends for us in stabilizing the situation in 2007. finally, this period also shows the rebirth of counterinsurgency . one of the things i think is funny about the lessons learned is that we don't ever learn this lesson the kinds of words we find almost always were involving some form of low intensity conflict that will be some combination of civil war, insurgency, armed groups fighting between armed groups that we don't want to penetrate into. we encountered
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counterinsurgency, great success with colonel mcmaster and we started capitalizing on bottom-line initiatives to treat them as a counterinsurgency fight instead of a fight out of the city. >> if i were to sum up the years between 2003 to 2006 and a single overarching lesson learned, i would call from game of thrones, namely that winning is not the same thing as ruling . this is the real lesson i hope sticks from the iraq war before army in the united states as a nation. the iraq war is an example of ground forces fighting and winning the stunning battlefield on the victory only to fail for a number of reasons at defeating war destroying the right organization in stabilizing the country. large organizations tend to fall back on their comfort zone and i think the army is no different. the fight will happen interact army seems to remain
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institutionally opposed to fighting anything other than peer or near peer militaries and major combat operations and maintaining a technological advantage. management nicely remain someone else's problem but the situation presents an unacceptable level of risk for current and future conflict. thank you. >> well it's an honor to be here to talk about this work that left me many times, saying, oh that is what was going on. i was in a rock as a correspondent from 2003 until my team was hit by a car bomb in 2006. i come there, not from washington d.c. but from being based in jerusalem. so, from my perspective i didn't know the military very much, i didn't know them at all, i got the marines and soldiers things wrong even though i'm the daughter of a marine so i had a lot to learn when i started covering the war and i watched
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the u.s. army learning as they went on. so, what this report does in great detail as i got a snapshot of on the ground, once military officers were willing to share with us. initially they saw us as the enemy tearing down what they were trying to do. i would say after the first year or year and a half, especially as some of them started cycling back in, there was and said that the pentagon wasn't listening to deadly effect and i started getting a lot more sources. what this report shows is that the army is willing to give itself a harsh grade and put out something like this is a cautionary tale to send us to the war yes so a critique of
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the finished work also shows that i would love to know what was happening in some of the places where he just had to say and he did this and all he can surmise and despite him writing a book, there are more questions to be answered. to me the work shows that this idea that you can have a short sharp wind of a war is not fiction. i've seen work since well in the past three or four years that joint staff was doing saying that if you're going to invade somewhere, think of it as a beachhead and you're gonna have to stay 15 to 20 years to change the culture, to maintain the relationships and to keep the influence there but instead
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of thinking of that as a high cost think of it as an opportunity. i don't know that you would agree with that but i can see some of what happened in this war arguing in that direction. so, i'm gonna walk through a couple of the things that i saw on the ground that this report help explain. when we first got there i drove dan rather into our armored vehicle through western iraq and as most of saddam's forces were playing in various directions, we did have attackers try to open fire luckily, we got through there before they got weapons raise, we got to baghdad what we found was, in many cases u.s. troops and not knowing what to do and iraqi security forces waiting to be told what to do that we
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have been in iraq under saddam and cbs covered many things there in for years and i was in and out and i was amazed at how little knowledge about what was going on and we had reported what we'd seen and what we've been allowed to see inside baghdad we saw there were sanctions but the city itself beyond certain central areas was falling apart and you've got to know if that is falling apart the rest of the country is so we were surprised at how many u.s. troops were surprised that the state of disrepair of the electricity system and water system etc. but, initially in the first few days what shocked me was that this one marine patrol i came across didn't know what to do and then i went to an iraqi police station and i found all the police and there sitting in their uniforms waiting for the
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americans to tell them what to do. they were from a society where for decades, if you showed initiative you got killed so he waited for someone to say it was okay to patrol the streets. in the interim, we as commanders figured that out, we filmed the riots in the looting of the central bank getting looted, the museum getting looted and we were saying where the american troops? it's a kind of report that i wonder if it helps drive policy when shown on the evening news back in the states, a question i would love to again put to perhaps some of the folks in the pentagon or in the audience , they can answer this question. the roa section, rules of engagement were you explain the evolution as troops who have come in for combat and suddenly
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dealing with the policing situation and didn't know how far to take the force. we won across people on the streets who didn't know how to deal with the rockies are us that we had guns pointed at us and superior officers had to run in to stop and say it's a reporter. there were a lot of scared people, there was a little bit of the dogs got the car and doesn't know what to do with it but they were frightened yet victorious and there was a whole now what, but we didn't understand the now what was going on right up to to the top of the chain as the quote from mccune and showed. then, i watched the evolution of the insurgency and i watched u.s. commanders on the ground
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and i had gone out because there were riots outside the green zone so my team and i had gone out and interviewed them and officers told us, if you don't give us away to feed our families that we are going to start attacking u.s. troops. we have the technology, we can build roadside bombs and low and behold that was the promise and they went and did it. so i saw general mark kirtley who invited me into an event he was doing where he invited all the old generals into a big hotel and he said, what i want to do is show the respect due to their old ranks and asked them, we can't employee but we want to try to find jobs for your guys so they will stop attacking our troops. to me as a reporter this just seem logical, intelligent, we
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put it in the top three minutes of the evening news, hurtling got in touch with me later, he nearly got fired because of that report because it was seen i was told from a distance in the pentagon as an american general bowing to the iraqi army he defeated. so, i saw that was just one fractal of something i sat repeated again and again and then there was a senior officer who said he saw a rising insurgency is that i can't say that on the record because the pentagon doesn't want to hear that i was like, if you can't say it then how can you develop a strategy to fix it and this report gets into the divide between those dealing with the problem right in front of them in the telephone game going back to
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washington and thinking, no, we went in with one idea in mind and got the point of the spear is detecting that things were different and i feel like some people were talking to us because they were using us to do an end run against pentagon officials who didn't want to know. so, one of the things we saw with the rise of politicians and the rise of death squads, there was an increasing secretary in war going on there were desk what's going on long at night and his neighborhoods. they were going through, in some cases hitting local officials and in other cases they were very strategic. one had been a pilot in the war
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against iran and he said there is a list, it must be alphabetical of all the pilots i served with because alphabetically there being knocked off so he was afraid to leave the bureau to visit his family so, this report gives the other side of some of that. what we saw evolving was this sectarian divide that was finally expressed and in a bombing that increased the bloodbath. we were also interviewing people like general casey who is being told by iraqi advisors to get your people off the streets, the site of american soldiers is what is delegitimizing our fledgling iraqi government because everyone thinks we are
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americans to just because you're still out there. i could see casey and others trying to follow the advice but when the mosque got blown up and that was supposed to be the test for security forces to keep the peace and they failed miserably, the blowback consequences of that i think we feel to this day. the other thing i saw were a lot of mistakes of poorly trained soldiers were not trained for a counterinsurgency war. i'll never forget the day, we were trying to do a feel-good christmas story, so we went with the colonel and his guys on a raid and they didn't find the weapons cache they hope to find, they only found the legal one ak-47 per house but at one house i guess, well, the colonel's guys told me he never
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actually came out but came out on tv so there was the owner of the household, it was like he was in front of a duplex because he had two wives and it was a perfect duplication and the colonel started raiding the sunni man so here is the sunni man well dressed on the ground, flex he cuffed outside of his beautiful duplex and the colonel is like, so what is wrong with you, one wife not good enough for you, you have to have two of everything? with his southern drawl on camera and i'm like oh my gosh what is this guy doing his guys watched in horror and pulled me aside and said please don't put that on tv, don't let him out of the fog because he's a good old boy and we know better . >> they might've known better
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but in the end after discussions with cbs news getting hammered or its treatment of the u.s. military. it was hard for me sometimes to get in embed other liberals who hate the bush administration and i wish in the end if we had put the story on the air because it was only later, maybe a year and a half that i learned of the fight going on inside the u.s. military to prosecute the war are the iraqis all enemies or are they part of the fight? do we need to win them over also? the man may not have been a
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member of the insurgency before but i bet he wrote up a check to them afterwards if not joined them. so, when we were hit by what we were later told was a car bomb that killed the captain james alex funkhouser for his translator who we can only call sam to protect his family and our camera crew that was just one of five car bombs in bag dad that day. so was i mad at the bombers? i had to ask myself, were one of their family members killed by a shiite death squad that they blamed the americans for, wouldn't they omnipotent we had night vision goggles, that's the logic i'd hear on the streets or had they joined this unit because a family member had been accidentally killed at a check point by an 18-year-old
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kid who was there with insufficient training but always under fire. so, fast forward to today, the u.s. invasion didn't call the violence that we see playing out but i think we overestimated our ability to reform the society and teach them the values of appreciating each other's religion but with that much blood spilled from both sides.. isis 1.0 and i just got
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back from three weeks in iraq in february and what i saw was child soldiers by not being given any kinds of counseling and when isis comes back to the next generation. hundreds of thousands of former isis families are being held in de facto internment camps, they have relatives in sunni villages building resentment and shiite militia groups on part of the government who are divvying up reconstruction contracts in areas they never used to run and also call the way down to the lowest level tactic they setting up check points that shake people down, you only need 1% of that in any country to me magnified through the telephone games so that a whole population feels under
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siege. i fear, we are now bystanders and something that we may not be able to stop a second time or a third time. but, thanks to the scholarship that you all of don, there's at least the blueprint before we get into another warlike this . >> thank you very much. >> so, there will be other histories but let us be clear, this is and will be in my view, for more or less the account of what happened in the iraq war and is unlikely that any government agency will put the resources in that the other authors had the ability to do, more than 100 interviews with the key players, the only person they didn't speak to was donald. so you mentioned and as seen in
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the history when he is talking to iraqi generals and suddenly they get news that the armies been disbanded, one of the original sins of the iraq war was the disbandment of the army, getting rid of the top three loans. so to the extent we could never unpack whoever is responsible, who was responsible for the decision. >> so it still kind of one of the great mysteries. we get asked this question a lot. you can trace it back to the secretary of defense of policy but ultimately the order was issued and when we talk to him he never said he didn't suck if
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you made this decision himself expect he definitely had marching orders but despite the commands he got he continued to go ahead with it . >> you mentioned that general casey was following orders to some extent, it's not that he came up with the strategy by himself.
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>> one of the things i learned is that general casey took ownership, most of the time when you're making bad decisions, no one is making bad decisions that they know will be bad at the time. general casey gave the strategy of withdrawing and letting the iraqis take charge. it was a little bit of wishful thinking a little bit of getting told by the ex-patriots they were working with and that was the best way to go and it wasn't their country. i think the civilian leadership was an eager to get out of the country at the time and this affected the decision-making.
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few of the officers led by being in the field on the special casey seemed to be getting reports that they were doing pretty well. what did you find in interviewing people, did they look back and say they felt they had pressure, to report that were making more progress than they were? and 2005 on004 general petraeus's personal staff.
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the general's personal staff and i got to sit next to him when he talked to the iraqis and sit in the congressional delegations he spoke to about the state of the iraqi forces. he knew it was an impossible mission a new we would not be able to set up these forces in two years and we had no experience starting a military from scratch and we were struggling to do the best we could with the information and resources we had available at the time. one of the things that struck me multiple times is that we would throw a lot of equipment embodies -- to iraqi bodies on the ground and expect them to run and fight and we wondered why we had mass exertions and people going awol. some of that was that they were trained or prepared and that they were getting paid in cash and they would have to take the cash home to feed their families and then come back. we started to see the a walls in a different light. there weren't a lot of former iraqi and they
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were trained to fight and prepare and go into battle as a unit. but i think the general was realistic about it and he was realistic when he told general casey what is happening. there's reluctance to be candid >> to what extent were people
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improvising with counterinsurgency even though it wasn't necessarily the elysee of the military before it became the policy of the military? we were implementing from the time we started fighting during the invasion. a nontraditional force for civilian clothes or wearing pajamas, we had to improvise because it wasn't the enemy we plan for, prepared for or were ready to fight. we didn't like fighting iuds because he came out of nowhere that we didn't know was building them and i remember commanders calling them cowardly attacks because they were effective and damaging to the soldiers but couldn't meet them head-to-head. we had commanders and they always did a tremendous job of saying that
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we have to make friends with the people and win hearts and minds and a lot of that stemmed from dissertation research and things of that nature but it seemed to be common sense at the time. we need to have elections, we can't be here forever we have to create conditions so we can leave. this improvisation started probably as early as march 2003. >> raise your hand . >> as soon as we have a microphone, this gentleman here. >> my name is grayson and i work as an iraqi interpreter from 2003 through 2008 for the army and my question is about the role of the iraqi exiles in the immediate fall of the regime. were they given to achieve something to help iraq or
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directing the policy of a rack in the immediate fall of the regime? >> yes there was an initial effort, i think they were called the free iraqi forces, there was the idea that they could find a bunch of ask patrons to come fight inside the country and they gave the forces the chance to work in conjunction with special operations forces but that didn't work out well and then you got another opportunity with the first transitional government to serve along with other expatriates, who as we found out later many of the local iraqi citizens didn't view as legitimate but were given the opportunity to run the government . >> gentleman in the back? >> [indiscernible - low volume] >> there's a microphone coming. >> okay. anybody that worked in eastern
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europe after the fall of the wall, the idea that expatriates didn't do well and would have had no expectations and it would've been much different in iraq. that leaves a larger question on how you get advice at the operational level and below. i know it was the policy ,'s i worked there at the time but a lot depended upon someone else to do it, the foreign service and to integrated an operational level and below. how did this happen at the time and what political advice for you getting on folks in theater and not the professional military? >> political advice from the
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interagency? >> yes . >> i'm both retired army and foreign service for the foreign service does not and that's the question, a lot of assumptions in place would've been thought to be very odd and you had experts in the region . >> remember that the state department and intelligence agencies were a bit like north korea of the lid a bit of a black box so i know there were people like the ambassador surging from the state department into the area trying to identify because i remember asking them and interviewing about how you form local counsel and they were working hard to identify people who are intellectual enough and brave
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enough to step into a civil society role but it seemed to be a patchwork and it was one way of doing it. and they were engineering another way to do it. they were each working at trying to work out to the local tapestry and he has been allowed to work under saddam to take these jobs . >> we had to direct some of the intelligence capability in finding the right people we were meeting with after meeting with the wrong people and realizing some of the negative aspects that can cause. the other agency started sending people out to assist the military or at least to start during reconstruction type operations under the office of reconstruction and humanitarian existence. and then a lot of those people even if they didn't say the
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counterparts they could relate information to but the state department also started sending foreign service officers in 2003 but i remember working with provincial ever government and military units and in august 2003 they started to filter in and they had a pretty productive working relationship with the problem again going back to what kim said is they didn't really have a good understanding of what's going on contributing to making a lot of mistakes in standing up and promulgate local government . >> great, we want to thank both of you very much . >> thank you. [ applause


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